Talk about a love-in: The GOP whispers sweet nothings

January 06, 1995|By MIKE LITTWIN

The strange thing was that, on his finest day, Rush Limbaugh wasn't there.

His Republicans had taken over the country (meaning, the world) and Rush was out of town. They said he was on vacation, maybe working on his tan -- which, you must agree, would be no small job.

It was as if Rush had looked down on his creation -- and then rested. Or maybe he's figured out something that we don't know yet, like it's all downhill from here.

We call this the Alexander-the-Great syndrome. Like, after you conquer the world, what do you do for an encore?

Alex solved the problem by dying.

And talk radio?

Apparently, the rest of the talk-show crowd seemed to think the future was just fine. Many had come to hated Washington to celebrate. On the day of the Republican coronation, during which I believe the Newtster was named either Speaker or king, strains of talk radio filled the air.

And why not?

As any self-respecting student of modern history knows, the first thing you do in a revolution, after chopping off the heads of nobles, is to take over the radio stations. The Republicans, who are interested only in the heads of Democrats, were way out in front on this one.

It's safe to say that radio -- not godless, counterculture, rap/rock/hip-hop radio, but God's own talk radio -- led this revolution. Certainly, a lot of blood-letting took place over the airwaves.

In gratitude, Newtie, as his now-famous mom calls him, had his favorite, home-town talk-radio host right there in the Speaker's offices. These boys are sentimental, aren't they?

In fact, Newtie invited nine talk-radio types to town, just to show mainstream liberal-elites who's in charge. The talk-show guys were everywhere.

I listened in, just to get the pulse of the country, which is wonderfully represented by the good folks who spend their days making angry calls to talk radio instead of, say, going to work and shooting up their colleagues.

On this day, callers were saying nasty, nasty things about Hillary -- much nastier than even Newtie's mom said he said. They were more interested, though, in saying nasty, nasty things about Connie Chung.

Moms, huh?

One day they're fixing your diapers, the next they're throwing away your baseball cards, and then, before you know it, they're on national TV telling Connie Chung that whenever you come over to the house you're always marching around calling the first lady a "bitch."

Like the talk-show boys, Newtie has appeared to be apoplectic about this. He very nearly called Chung a counterculture McGovernick, except he remembered he was supposed to be nicer these days. Do you think he really is upset?

If you saw the interview, here's what happened: Chung asked a question. Newtie's mom was coy. Chung asked a coy, follow-up question. And suddenly mom answers in a stage whisper, and it's five-letter words all around.

The TV news magazines may not be journalism on a par, say, with talk radio, but there was nothing sleazy here. Besides, what did Newtie think Chung was going to ask his mom about -- his first ear infection?

(Memo to my mom: When Connie calls -- and she will -- please do not tell her about the time I said Mamie Eisenhower was a babe, no matter how nicely she asks.)

This was a perfect issue for talk radio. It was something for angry white males to get angry about.

But what about six months from now?

Will they be angry that the capital-gains tax cut wasn't being enacted quickly enough? Probably not.

Are they going to be screaming for an investigation of Newtie's book deals? I don't think so.

Yes, there will always be Clinton. But maybe just for two more years. And then there may be no '60s draft-dodger in the White House, unless Dan Quayle gets elected. Are the callers going to be upset about that?

I can picture a time when Rush comes on the air to say that he's pretty mellowed out today and he's just going to play "Feelings" for the entire three hours.

Is that how it will end, with the talk-show genie stuffed back inside the bottle?

Or maybe the few remaining liberals will get mad, and talk radio will swing to the left. Yeah, right.

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